makar [ˈmækər]
n (Literature / Poetry) Scot a creative artist, esp a poet
[a Scot variant of maker]

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Happy Holidays to all! xxxx

Thursday, December 22, 2011

I think you make your own happiness: some people are miserable even when they have everything, others make the decision to be happy despite devastating loss. I know that at some point, after my mum died, I decided to be happy again.

Today, I was basking in the glow of two hours of child-free, last-minute Christmas shopping, waiting for a latte in one of my favourite cafes, when I picked up the paper. One moment, I was happy and content, the next I was shaking all over, the blood drained from my face, the sadness coarsing through me. On the front page was a photograph of my cousin with her wide smile and twinkly blue eyes. Last Christmas she was here, this Christmas she is not: she will never be older than 23. Seeing her face suddenly put everything into perspective: all the superficial crap we worry about, all the nonsense we indulge in, means nothing. When you lose someone that you love that much, you wonder if you will ever be happy again. This Christmas will be a horrible ordeal for her mum and dad and her three sisters, but I hope that, despite the sense of loss that will never ever go away, they will one day have happiness in their lives again.

Monday, December 19, 2011

It's not over yet, but overall the activity advent has been a lot of fun. Some things have been more successful than others, and we did skip a few days because we simply ran out of time. It's actually established a rather lovely rhythm to the day, which I think I will try to keep in place. I'm also hoping to continue being a bit more creative with the activities we do during the rest of the year: I'm not much of a planner and tend to fall back on those old favourites of playdough, painting, or baking. Being creative and a touch more organised has increased my enthusiasm, as well as that of the kids. My little girl really wants to learn to sew, so I'm going to dream up some simple activities to get her started. I also definitely want to do more with clay, having recently rediscovered my own love of sculpture and pottery. As for baking, well, let's just say that constructing and decorating a gingerbread house is not nearly as much fun as it looks... Not, unfortunately, a tradition that I shall be incorporating into future Christmas preparations!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Whether you're attempting to resist or embracing it fully, now is a materialistic time of year. There's just no escaping it. For the last few years, I've found myself getting a little down about what to buy everyone for Christmas: no one seems to need anything, and anything they do want, tends to be quite beyond my means. After much pondering, I haven't really worked out a solution, and yet again I am vexed about what to do when it comes to gifts (making gifts for everyone is a pipe-dream - I have neither the time, nor the energy). The children are the exception - I have no trouble thinking of things they would enjoy - and my only problem is reigning myself in before the credit card implodes and/or they turn into spoiled brats.

Anyway, it is most definitely a time to ponder the haves and the have nots. It seems to me that the culture of compare and contrast amongst parents is not just consigned to our kids' achievements and our approaches to parenting, but extends out to who has what and how much. I am guilty of this. I still can't fathom how anyone can afford to do extensive renovations to their house, or run two, huge cars. I wish we had enough savings to build a small veranda on the front of our house and to install solar panels. I'd like to buy decent furniture and not just settle for Ikea every single time, because it is so bloody cheap and looks vaguely presentable. It would be nice to not feel so bad about the cost of going to the hairdresser that despite it being more than a year since my last visit, I ask my husband to trim off the split ends. But, we have made our choices and they were led by ideals and not practicality, and I'm happy with that. I remember, as a child, thinking we must be poor because we didn't have a microwave and our television was tiny and second-hand. It was only years later that I realised the reason for this was that my parents just didn't think those things were important: they choose to spend their money on other things, which they valued more highly.

A few days ago, someone asked me what I would like for Christmas. At the time I couldn't think of anything, but what I'd really like is for my husband to work a little less, to have some more time to myself, and to possess enough energy to be and do all that I want. Those are the things I really covet in other people's lives.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

I just read this article about flexi-schooling, something I had never heard of before. It sounds great, and probably something parents have been doing on an informal basis for a while.

The Rise of Flexi-Schooling

Saturday, December 3, 2011

So it's only day three of the activity advent and already we've failed to do today's activity. Admittedly, it was a little foolish, or perhaps cruel, of me to choose Make a Christmas Pudding (with dad) for the day after his work Christmas party. Still he bought us some fabulous chocolate ice cream this afternoon when everyone was hot and grumpy, so all is forgiven. And the kids don't even seem to realise that we never quite managed to make that pud. Hush hush.

Friday, December 2, 2011

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Inspired by Soulemama

Thursday, December 1, 2011

We have a grand total of four advent calendars in our house, which is great because my children have decided that 5.30am is the new 6.30am, and it's going to give me a little time to wake up before the demands of honey toast and milk start coming thick and fast. Anyway the advents from Grandma are all beautiful, especially the little sparkly one for the grown-ups. The fourth is probably going to be the end of me, but it seemed like a lovely idea when I spotted it on Pin Interest, as well as being a good alternative to 24 days of chocolate consumption. It's an activity calendar, the concept being that every day we do something Christmas-related, such as bake mince pies, or decorate the tree, or make paper chains. I had a little trouble coming up with all the activities because I wanted to have a few that were for lazy days (Read a Christmas Story or Colour in a Christmas Picture), and some that they could do with their dad (Make a Christmas Cake, Go to the Christmas Bazaar). I stole a few ideas from my friend at Little Piece of Pie because she is a craft genius, and who could resist those Reindeer Cookies with their chocolate pretzel antlers? I'm looking forward to all the baking and making, although I've decided to select the activity the night before, so that I can judge whether or not it would be the best day to do this, that, or the other. We'll see how it goes...Today, we started with a simple one: Hang the Wreath on the Door.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

A Facebook Friend, who doesn't know I blog, wrote this as her status a few days ago:
"cannot believe how many of these 'mummy blogs' there are: people trying to show off how great that are as parents and how much they love their kids...errr yeah and what are your kid's doing while you are writing your a blog? Being ignored and neglected!"
A little harsh, I thought. Of course, I composed many replies in my head, but never quite managed to respond. I'm growing less confrontational with age and perhaps it's just not worth it. She is, after all, entitled to her opinion. However, I cannot imagine that there are many mummy bloggers out there who ignore or neglect their children to write a blog, and while I do fall in and out of love with blogging, overall I think that it is a positive and productive undertaking. If I didn't, why on earth would I do it? For me, as I imagine it is for many, blogging is a creative outlet, a way of celebrating my domestic world, and documenting the trials and tribulations, as well as the many joys of living with young children. At the end of another long, hard day, it is a way of taking stock, of focusing on what was important or interesting or special in our experiences. I find it cathartic: I feel happier and more at peace with my life when I blog. Plus, it sure beats watching crappy television, or updating your status on Facebook. Maybe my Friend should try it: she might even like it.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

I am probably the least likely person to meal-plan. In fact, before children I would mostly decide what to have for dinner while standing in an aisle of the supermarket, somewhere between work and home, at about 7pm. Anyway, I love to cook, but lately I've been finding it's lost some of the joy for me and has become another chore. So, in a bid to put the zing back into my relationship with cooking, I've started planning meals, or meal-planning of sorts. For the last couple of weeks, I've sat down on a Monday morning with a few recipe books and composed a list of four or five meals for the week ahead. I mix it up with a few new recipes I want to try, some definite hits with the kids, and a super easy, I-could-cook-this-in-my-sleep, option for the day when everything gets too much. I don't do anything as sensible as go to the shop and buy all the ingredients in one hit, but I do have something to refer back to throughout the week, when inspiration has been replaced by exhaustion. We still seem to head to the shops most days - not always that much fun with no car, stupidly hot days, and two rascals who won't take no for an answer - but it keeps us occupied, means everything is fresh, and ensures that I don't throw any spoiled food away. Anyway, I love it: I've tried some great new meals, which have been met with enthusiasm, plus it seems to have taken a lot of the stress out of cooking and made it a pleasure once again.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

There's part of me (the increasingly large and lumpy part) that wishes I hadn't just discovered this wonderful blog, The Cake Mistress, and then there's the other part that just thinks YUM! Plus they give all proceeds to charity, which is rather lovely too. Enjoy!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

There has been a flurry of birthday parties of late (7 in 3 weeks, although we only made it to 5 because of a horrible cold). This has been fun, if a little intense. I am so impressed by how much creativity and hard work parents put into organising and hosting these parties, and I feel quite daunted by the prospect of measuring up. I've been trying to work out what to do for my daughter's birthday, which falls in that rather awkward stretch of time between Christmas and New Year. I've also been thinking about what precedents we're setting and how her expectations of what constitutes a party are already being formed. I read an interesting blog a few months back about a mother of four, who had decided that she wasn't going to have parties for all her children every year, and that instead, some years, they would have a quieter, smaller celebration with a special meal and a cake. I liked the idea of this, although I have to say I also like a party, and I'm not sure whether it has to be a question of party or no party. It seems to me that the important thing is for our children to realise that there are many ways of celebrating and that parties can come in all shapes and sizes. I've noticed that my daughter has started to expect certain things from a birthday party: balloons, party bags with bubbles, stickers, and sweets, particular games and food. I know that there is an element of tradition to kids' parties and that's cool, but I also want things to be more open that that. Parties can be big, or small, they can be lavish or simple, they can have lots of decorations or none at all, there can be games and activities or just plain delight in the company of others. At its most basic, a party is about sharing food and drink, being with those we value, and joining in celebration. Everything else should be a matter of choice and not obligation. Please, don't even get me started on Christmas...

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

You know those days when you get on the bus and everyone just seems miserable and ugly and grey, and you decide that you don't really like other people and want to just run away and become a hermit? Well, I had the opposite of that this afternoon. The light was soft and golden, the sky the bluest blue, the children happy and occupied, the washing flapping in the breeze, the garden actually looking pretty good for once and not too much like a wasteland.... Yep, suddenly I could see the beauty even in the discarded play of my children, the unwashed lunch dishes, the cluttered chaos of my life. Of course it didn't last, but it would be very sweet to have a few more moments like that every week.

Monday, November 7, 2011

From the first time I struggled to find anything to wear.

These days, I'm spending more time than I'd like to trying to work out what on earth to wear. By this, I mean more than a minute and less than five, but time is precious in the morning and my children impatient. I've had some very lovely donations from other mums, which have helped enormously, but I really haven't got the hang of dressing the bump yet and I suspect I never will. Part of the problem is that in terms of body-shape, I'm probably most suited to the 1950s. I have a waist, or at least I once did, and dressed accordingly: full skirts and fitted tops were my staple; low-rise, skinny jeans and empire line dresses my arch enemies. A thickening waist and a protruding belly, not to mention the ever widening hips and ample bosom, have completely changed what does and does not suit me. The other problem is that maternity clothes are either hideous and frumpy, ridiculously expensive, or more often than not, both. My friend over at Wandering Womb wrote about the very same problem a few months back. Most of my purchases from previous pregnancies have fallen apart, having been subject to a couple of years of punishing tropical weather and a great deal of washing machine abuse, but I still haven't worked out where to buy gorgeous, reasonably priced, maternity clothes. Maybe I should just take the advice of the younger members of the family, who seem to have decided lately that clothes are superfluous... Now that would be a sight to behold!

Monday, October 31, 2011

So third time around, we've decided not to find out the gender of the baby. The other half wants a "surprise". He did last time too, but I cruelly convinced him that we should find out by arguing that it would mean we could ignore half the baby name book. It worked a treat. See, my husband does NOT like to talk about names, and I absolutely LOVE too. He thinks we should just wait until the baby is born and then decide, but I know that those heady days immediately after giving birth render one a little bit loopy, and I'm not sure that's a good state in which to be dreaming up the all-important name. A bit of background research - a list of say 5 names for each sex - is, in my opinion, a very good thing to have in your hospital bag. Names are tricky to agree on and it's good to know where you both stand. As a friend of mine said about her and her partner's inability to agree on a name for their daughter: "We agree on everything: politics, religion, ecetera, but can we agree on a name that we both like? No, we cannot."

Anyway, I found something that I wrote about names when I was pregnant with our first and it seems just as applicable now as it did then, so I thought I'd share it:

Now that we know we’re having a girl, there has been a sudden increase in the frequency of the question: “Do you have any names yet?” Yes, we do, and I’m fast learning to keep them to myself. People don’t seem to have any problem telling you what they think, or pulling a face. My dad, not one to beat about the bush, just says things like “no” or “really?” or “that’s a bit silly”. Thus, several perfectly lovely names (in my opinion) have been discarded. In fact, we’re running pretty low because evidently you can’t please everyone, or indeed anyone, when it comes to names. I’ve tried not to be influenced by external forces, but when someone pulls an expression akin to sucking on a mouthful of manure, it’s hard not to wonder whether you’ve convinced yourself that an utterly ludicrous name is fabulously unique and meaningful. See, when you’re flicking through the baby name book, it is very, very easy to get carried away (think Apple Paltrow, Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lily, Shiloh Nouvel Pitt, Diva Muffin Zappa, Tallulah Belle Willis, the list goes on and on and on), and trust me I have come up with some shockers. My husband's response to an early list was: “Where did you get these from? Were you trying to think of the most horrible names you could?” It’s actually pretty hard to find a name that you both like, and once you do, firm favorites often become completely unimaginable a week later (thus confirming my suspicion that I should NEVER EVER get a tattoo) for no particular reason.

Please, please, if someone reveals their list of possible baby names to you, lie, goddamn it! Lie! You probably will once the baby is born and the name decided on, so why not now? Even if we do settle on Ermintrude and you think it’s the most hideous name ever, please don’t tell me. In turn, I promise not to utter a word (or pull a face) when little Osgood’s arrival is announced.

I should add that my brother recently revealed to me that when we did announce the name of our first born, he wasn't sure if it was a joke or not. I don't think this was because her name is that out there (maybe just a little quirky and retro), but because we were pretty sure that she was going to be one thing and then when we met her, she really wasn't, and we went for something else on the list (a very late addition and one that had been earlier rejected by Mr-I-don't-want-to-talk about-names). It suits her so much more than we could have known at the time, but then perhaps all babies grow into their names and we really shouldn't worry so much...

Thursday, October 27, 2011

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

My little boy turned 2 yesterday. We celebrated with an intensive day of play - paddling pool, play-dough, painting, reading all his new books and some old ones, playing with lots of great pressies - and a delicious blueberry cake for my blueberry-loving rascal. A very happy birthday indeed.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

I really, really needed my writing morning today and it didn't happen - a feverish, very pale little girl meant we had to make a hasty retreat from Kindy. It's been a few weeks since I had a morning to myself and this along with the big fat rejection I received in the post yesterday left me in dire need of some time to remember who I am when I'm not being mama. You'd think I'd be used to rejection - I am definitely toughened to it - but it still hits you like a slap in the face. The little ones I can brush off, but the things you've put a lot into, well, those rejections make you rethink everything, if only for an hour or so. I've always been one of those people who is fired up by failure (when I was put in a low set for maths at school, I worked my butt off until I was the girl most likely to get an A*- I settled for an A, but there you go!), and nothing's changed. I have a mental list of people who haven't believed in me and who, one day, I'll prove wrong. Is that healthy? I don't know, but it certainly is motivating. Yesterday, I doubted whether I was on the right path, I wondered if perhaps I've been kidding myself. Should I just put my energy into something else? Get a vocation? Today, despite my lack of writing time, I feel more level-headed. I love books; I love words; I love to write. Even if no one ever publishes my novels, even if I never get to stick two fingers up at all those non-believers, that, in itself, is enough.

Friday, October 14, 2011

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

We have a somewhat tough-love approach to growing vegetables, in that we just throw some seeds into the raised beds, and let mother nature take her course. Last year, the results were pretty pathetic, but things are looking up. We've had lots of delicious broad beans, a few beetroots, and then today, we dug up about 50 of these beautiful potatoes. Not bad, considering I just stuck a few sprouting potatoes in the ground!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Most of my daughter's questions seem to be about science - not exactly a strong point of mine - so I'm very pleased with her latest favourite:

"What makes you happy?"

My initial response was "coffee, a really good cup of coffee", but she wanted more, so I added "flowers, they always make me feel happy." Then I thought a bit more: "When you two and daddy are happy, then I feel happy too."

"Mummy, what makes you not happy?"

I considered this: "Whining and being hungry."

For once, she seemed satisfied with my answers. Now I just need to find out why lemons are yellow, ladybirds have dots, and meteors can fly without wings...

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The final and most unreasonable demand of the day:

"Daddy, please can you stop breathing? I can't get to sleep."

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Cake as protest?

The Women's Blog

I always knew it was powerful stuff.

Friday, September 30, 2011

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Inspired by Soulemama

Sunday, September 25, 2011

I grew up with poppies, daffodils, honeysuckle, and hollyhocks, so when the wildflowers appear they seem even more beautiful because of their strangeness. The colours are more vibrant, the forms more complex, and the numbers vast! As for freesias growing on the nature strip, I just can't get over that. They are, without doubt, the smell I most strongly associate with the house where I grew up, not because they grew in the garden, but because they were my mum's regular treat to herself whenever she went to the florist. The smell of them in your bedroom when you wake up in the morning is heaven!

Friday, September 23, 2011

this [bad mother] moment

To counter all the pretty pictures and tell it like it sometimes is...

We're on the bus, coming home from a lovely lunch with some friends. Both children are covered in chocolate ice cream; to be honest, so am I. One child is crying because he is tired and doesn't want to sit in the pram; the other is sitting backwards on the seat and quietly throwing up. Nice. The bus driver is remarkably cool about this, and no one on the bus says a word, but I can feel the weight of disapproval in the air. What a bad mother! Still I clean it up, he falls asleep, we get home, everyone is fine. Just another day.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Today, I decided to have a big sort out of my wardrobe: some items are heading to the op-shop, others were set aside for an upcoming clothes-swap, and my winter stuff was scurried away for next year. Of course, it has been absolutely hideous weather all day and I'm wondering if I might have been a litttle premature in declaring winter over. Anyway, I made an interesting discovery in the wardrobe: this stack of books.

They cover all things parenting-related and while, they by no means constitute my full collection on the subject, I thought it was telling that I should find them here, tucked away like some dirty stash. I'm not sure why I decided that this was the place to keep them, but it seems a little odd, as if I'm ashamed to own them. Perhaps I don't want others to know that being a mum doesn't come naturally, whatever that may mean. Surely, they should take pride of place somewhere prominent, evidence that I've done all the reading and ahem, know what I'm doing?

Friday, September 16, 2011

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Inspired by Soulemama

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

My girl's been many things over the last few weeks:

a cat

a builder of butterfly nests

a dressmaker (well, grass-skirt maker)

a flower shop owner

However, this evening, at dinner, she informed me that when she is bigger she is going to go to university to learn how to make dolls. She went on to elaborate: she is actually going to learn how to make sick dolls better. At this point, she broke into song: "Miss Polly had a dolly who was sick, sick, sick..." So we're going to have a doll-doctor in the family. How fabulous is that?
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